Started the day with some fresh mossie bites around the ankles. These are driving me crazy recently, I have about 10 around my ankles and they are maddeningly itchy. I have many more bites but the other real baddy is the one on my thumb. What evil creation of nature makes you itchy on the thumb, it hurts to scratch it and you’re always moving it so it always itches. Rargh! I like nature and usually don’t go out of my way to hurt it, but mosquitos fall outside that barrier. They must all die.
Today I wanted to see the cultural highlights of Samui. After ringing the bank again to find out why my card still wasn’t working (turns out Thai ATMs use the strip, not the chip, and that needs authorising separately), I walked out towards “Fisherman’s Village”. The weather was awesome but scorching. This would have been a better day to go to the national park. My resort owner told me on Samui the forecasts can’t be trusted, the weather is always changing one hour to the next. Anyway the walk took much longer than anticipated, over an hour along the beach and then further along the main road.
The fishing village is a strangely European looking place filled with seafood restaurants and shops. Two piers stick out from it, one wooden, one artificial. Some young English blokes were at the end of one fishing. No luck yet, they told me. Still they could admire the nice view over the sea to Phangyang.
I walked along the big beach here past posh resorts with sunloungers on the beach, speedboats and watersports. It was quite busy but not manic. Jetskis look fun, I’m going to try that one day. But this beachlife isn’t really my scene, if I wanted to chill on the beach I’d rather go somewhere quieter and natural like Koh Tao or Koh Chang. This is too resorty for me – unless I was on a party holiday (ah Greek island memories!).
Some Thais roamed the beaches selling their wares, jewellery, sarongs, windmills, drinks. Some entrepernurial Thais had little barbeques on the beach doing chicken, sweetcorn and salads. They pulled in plenty of punters as they were cheap compared to the resort restaurants. I bought a nice papaya salad, prepared right in front of me with fresh vegetables, and hid in the shade of a palm tree to rest.
Then I headed to the main road and caught a songthaew to the other side of the island. We passed through the main beach area ofChaweng which is the most popular part. Sure enough there were loads of tourists around and shops everywhere. I didn’t get to see the beach though which is the best bit! Turned out this songthaew terminated in Chaweng so I had to wait for another going further south. This was a private one but I was bored of waiting whilst the afternoon ticked away so forked out the extra dough.
I got off at HuaThanon, a muslim fishing village. I’d read about the fishing boats so wanted to see for myself. I went straight for the sea, not hard as I was already there. Walked along an abandoned pier and down some crumbling steps and had to wade back onto the beach. The shallows were muddy and murky. Here the beach was lined with ramshackle shack houses made of everything, with tight, uninviting alleys leading into town, most with fishing gear in front. In the water the colourful fishing fleet was moored, most boats having a horizontal pole sticking out from their mast with massive bulbs attached – used at night to attract the fish. Smaller boats and kayaks were in the shallows.
The beach was badly littered near the houses and the shallows and beach were scattered with assortments of seafood remnants – fish heads, crab shells, sea shells and other rubbish. The water looked pretty skanky and the place smelled rank.
On the shoreline and in the water people were working on fishing nets and boats. Children were playing in the water and digging on the beach, and dogs lounged on the sand. Ducks and chickens pecked around by the shacks and cats skulked in the shadows. It felt a world away from the main road I’d been at a few minutes earlier.
As soon as I set foot on the beach a dog appeared from under a shack and snarled at me and started barking, coming closer. This was bad news, I backed away quickly reaching for some objects to scare it. A bare chested, tattooed man nearby shouted at it and reached for a stone as well, and the dog backed off and I continued quickly, calling my thanks to the guy. Two yapping puppies appeared which could explain the dogs behaviour. I am very wary of dogs here now, they’re so unpredictable – some are very aggressive, some are curious, some are friendly. Some seem fine until the last minute when suddenly they freak out. I try to stay clear on the streets but it’s unavoidable to pass close to them sometimes, whether knowing it or not!
Keeping a close eye out for other territorial dogs hidden by the shacks I worked my way along the beach taking pictures and watching all the activity taking place. A group of guys called me over and gestured that they wanted me to take their photo. Such willing subjects don’t appear often so I readily agreed.
The guy insisted on taking one of me with the other, at this point you have to make a quick judgement call, might this person run off with my camera? It’s a tricky line to walk as playing it safe can not only seem rude but it also seems sad that you’d trust no one. On this occasion my gut feeling from their behaviour was that these guys were sound and there were people of all ages in the area so I wasn’t isolated, so I agreed. Sure enough it was fine and interestingly the guys didn’t seem bothered about seeing the picture on the screen, though a few of them looked, just getting their photo taken was reward enough! I always tell my subjects jokingly they will be famous and a big celebrity though no one ever understands my English.
As I continued up the beach some people would say hello, or acknowledge me when I gave a nod or smile, others would ignore me. Usually children in these places that tourists don’t often go to will be curious to see a farang, but the kids here barely noticed me at all. I didn’t really envy them playing in that water when I’d seen all the crap going into it further down the beach. Some were scraping holes in the beach with shells, maybe they were looking for crabs or worms. One adult in the water was wading around up to his chest, working on the hull of his boat.
At the end of the fleet I headed inland into a coconut plantation where a docile buffalo was tied up. They have quite a lot on the island apparently but this was the only place I saw them, there were more grazing further in. Big piles of coconuts were by the track. A guy came from the beach with his friends to look over the buffalo and it was quite content to have people touching it.
I wandered into the village, now I was on the other side of all the shacks. The narrow street winded past many food st